The Conference Schedule and Highlights

Take a glance at the amazing presenters below. No need to choose now…you can simply show up and sit down in any of the following workshops! Each workshop has a full description below!

Friday, October 11, 2019

Today’s Theme: Take a Look Inside a Solution Focused School

Friday, October 11, 2019

8:00 -8:30 am: Welcome Breakfast

8:30-9:00 am: The Solution Focused School Climate: Linda Metcalf, M.Ed., Ph.D

Imagine a school with no discipline issues, no violence and high achievement. Imagine a school where respect and dignity is felt from the moment you walk through the doors by students, parents and staff. Imagine a school where students take responsibility for adhering to policy and develop their own unique ways of doing so through a VERY different kind of conversation. This school exists and we are going to talk about it on this day. Welcome to the Solution Focused School Conference!

9:00-10:15 am: Creating Gonzalo “Garza” Independence High School: Cynthia Franklin, PhD, UT Austin

Thirteen years ago, Dr Cynthia Franklin, the Stiernberg/Spencer Family Professor in Mental Health at The University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work, received a call from a newly established alternative school in East Austin. Principal Victoria Baldwin, at Gonzalo Garza Independence High School, who wanted to bring mental health services to Garza. Since that first call in 2000, Garza High School has become a solution-focused high school, and has been recognized as a model dropout prevention program that provides high academic success for its students. Garza focuses on students’ goals, strengths, and resources; and helps students build solutions by assisting them in envisioning the future they want and enacting the steps to make it happen. In this first workshop, Dr. Franklin will inspire us with how Garza was created and continues to be a model of success.

10:15-10:30 am: Break

10:30-11:45 am: A Solution Focused Alternative School: Linda Webb, PhD, Principal of Garza High School


Lunch 11:45-1:00pm

What is it like to be the principal of a solution focused alternative school where students are seen as experts and teachers are called facilitators of learning? Imagine a school where 80% of its students are considered “at risk” and 80% of those students graduate and are college bound. In 2012, Gonzalo Garza High School, in Austin, Texas, was recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as one of only 43 programs across the country exemplifying potential best practices and effectiveness in improving outcomes for at-risk students.  We welcome Dr. Webb as she shares what it is like to work at Garza and create futures for students every day.

1:00-2:00 pm: Solution Focused Counseling in an Alternative School:

Ali Mills, LCSW, Communities in Schools

What is it like to work in a solution focused high school where at-risk students attend, flourish and succeed? Imagine teachers (facilitators) who understand your approach and support the students to discover their own solutions and develop steps to achieve their goals. This workshop will provide you with hope that it is possible to focus on strengths and abilities as a means to assist students succeeding.

2:00-2:45 Teaching in a Solution Focused School: Teacher, Garza High School: Adrienne Kimmel, World History Teacher

Teaching in a solution focused high school means paying attention to student abilities and strengths, not focusing on problems or problematic behaviors. Instead, teachers (facilitators) ask students for their suggestions and ideas to cope with a variety of issues, academically and personally, so that they develop the competencies needed to succeed independently. This workshop will describe what it is like to work at Garza and how the solution focused approach is used every day by the facilitator.

Break: 2:45-3:00

3:15-3:45: Panel Discussion With all Garza Staff

Linda Webb, Ali Mills, Adrienne Kimmel and Cynthia Franklin will provide us with an opportunity to ask them any questions you might have after their presentations. Get ready to be inspired!

Short Break-15 min

4:00-5:00 pm Closing: Elliott Connie, co-author, The Heart and Soul of Solution Focused Therapy and Why Our Students Need It!

The solution focused approach is not a set of questions. It is a mindset that can drastically change the way that you relate to students and compose the atmosphere in your school. It is about relaying, through conversations, the heart and soul of one human to another so that relationships transform and create a climate that is conducive to success for all. Come be inspired by Elliott as he speaks about how the solution focused approach can change the lives of our students. Hear him inspire you into believing that we all already hold the key to being a solution focused educator.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Today’s Theme: It’s Time to Create a Solution Focused Climate in Your School with ALL Students…NOW!!!

8:30-9:00 am: Welcome Back Breakfast

Sessions: 9:00 -10:15 am

  • Room 1. Elementary Track: Solution Focused Groups, Individual Conversations and Parent Conferences: Christina Walker Stanley, MSSC, LPC, CSC
  • Elementary school counselors wear many hats! In this workshop, attendees will learn how to use the solution focused approach with parents so that they recognize their expertise on their children. Ideas for ways to join and have conversations with parents so that they feel empowered will be provided. Additionally, ideas for groups for elementary students and individual counseling sessions that encourage the students to develop their own solutions will be discussed. Ideas for making each guidance lesson solution focused will also be covered so that what is done in the counselor’s office can be consistent with what is heard in the classroom.
  • Room 2. All Level Track: A Solution Focused Approach to Grief and Loss in Schools
  • Brooke Goggans, MA, LPC

Grief and loss does not always “look” like grief and loss, and young people experiencing the bereavement process can be both confused and completely consumed by the overwhelming emotions associated with death loss. This presentation will take attendees on an experiential adventure through their own grief journeys, enabling them to learn how persistent problems can become so intrusive in the lives of young people that it interferes with day to day functioning. The grief journey is very personal to each person affected, but the hope is that attendees will be able to walk alongside the young people they encounter, viewing each as an expert on their journey and able to embrace empowerment through exception seeking and overall desire for change.  

  • Room 3. High School Track: Solution Focused Counseling in High School: Tiphynee Salazar, MSSC, LPC, CSC
Tiphynee Salazar, MS, LPC, CSC, Licensed Professional Counselor in Benbrook

Today’s high school students struggle with social and emotional concerns that often interfere with academic hopes. This workshop will provide solution focused strategies for helping high school students with a variety of situations including peer and teacher conflicts, college readiness issues and academic failure. Ideas for immediate implementation will be provided along with case studies to aid in understanding the approach.

10:15-10:45 am Long Break- Networking/ Bookstore

Sessions: 10:45-12:15 pm

  • Room 1.  How Educators can use the Solution Focused Approach to Identify and Assist Minors Involved in Sex Trafficking
  • Carolina Utz, MS, LMFTCSC
  • The average recruiting age in sex trafficking is 12-16, involving middle and high school age children. Attendees will learn to identify terms used by youth who are “in the life.” We will explore the complex interdependence between pimp and victim which can lead educators to have more compassion and understanding with the survivors. Stories of survivors will be shared and explanations of how effective the solution-focused approach is in helping them move away from the life. Attendees will be given solution-focused ideas to use at school when suspecting involvement ​as well as tools to work with the families.
  • Room 2. A Solution Focused Approach to Working with Diverse and Non-English Speaking Parents of School Children: Marilu Romero, PhD

Join Marilu Romero as she illustrates the practical yet profound ways a solution focused approach can intervene in the school setting in the interest of helping non-English speaking parents of diverse youth better navigate the educational system and help their children discover and achieve their dreams. The role of language barriers, cultural nuances, multigenerational differences, and the family-school-youth triad will be highlighted and explored to present a case for why the solution focused model is a natural fit for this rapidly growing community setting and the unique challenges it may bring. 

  • Room 3. Creating a Solution Focused Environment in Schools Where LGBTQ Students can Thrive: Rebekkah Ouer, MSSW -S

A solution focused environment is naturally affirming, so this workshop will teach participants how to create a solution focused environment in their schools and classes where their LGBTQ youth, can not only survive, but thrive along with their peers in the school and classroom setting. 

12:15-1:15 lunch

Sessions: 1:15-2:30pm

Room 1. Using Solution Focused /Systemic Approach to Resolving School Refusal Issues in High School Students: Paulina Gazarro, PhD, LMFT

This session will examine a unique systemic pattern observed with youth at risk, who were losing academic credit due to attendance issues.  The session will provide a new solution focused process that fosters youth success, and increases school attendance with at risk youth in a high school setting.  This process, part of a research study, involved engaging teachers with such students and resulted in increased attendance and better grades! Participants will gain a systemic understanding of the problem of school refusal, as well as new solution focused skills that systemically increase attendance and overall youth success in schools.   

Room 2- Disciplining Differently: A Solution Focused Approach that Leads to Success for High Risk Students. Tiphynee Salazar, MSSC, LPC, CSC, Mario Layne, M.Ed., PhD

Room 3- How to Introduce Teachers and Administrators to the Solution Focused Approach. Linda Metcalf, M.Ed., PhD, CSC, LPC-S, LMFT-S

It’s one thing to come back from a conference with fantastic ideas and another to implement them with staff. This workshop will show how to use the solution focused approach to engage staff to try the approach through their own suggestions. Specific exercises will be suggested for training and experienced by attendees. Additional ways to engage staff and help them switch their mindset from problem focused to solution focused will be provided in the form of handouts to use ASAP!

2:30-2:45- break

Sessions: 2:45-4:00 pm OPEN CONSULTATION SESSIONS and Individual Planning Tips with Linda Metcalf and Conference Presenters

This will be a casual time to talk with us about how to begin implementation in your individual school. We are happy to talk about steps to take to begin and how we can assist you from afar if you are interested! There will also be time to talk with us about offering onsite trainings or Zoom trainings to your school staff. Come explore the possibilities that the solution focused model can create in the climate at your school. We are ready to serve.

Linda Metcalf, PhD and School Solutions Consultants

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